Destination Canada: Trip of a Lifetime

Get ready now for that trip of a lifetime

Life is the journey, not the end result. So you’ve heard about Canada and the many fishing stories that occur on trips—fish strikes on every cast, catching fish on empty jigs, fish bite whatever lure you throw. But, you haven’t made the trip north of the border yet because it’s too much of a hassle or you don’t have time. This is the time to make the time for that trip of a lifetime before it’s too late.

For years, I’ve gone to Canada every summer for at least one fishing trip. It started in my teens when my dad would organize a trip of guys or a family getaway to this magical land of endless lakes, pine-scented forests and abundant wildlife. Now that I am older, I organize trips with family and friends.

The key word is “organize.”

Any event in life is worth planning. For your fishing trip of a lifetime, it makes the event that much more fun and lasting. If you don’t plan and organize, the trip usually winds up coming and going way too quickly (which, when you look back on it, it will do anyway). If you plan, it seems to last longer and it also has a much better chance of going smoothly and fulfilling your expectations.

Which resort or destination is for me?

To start a Canadian fishing adventure, you must begin with some questions. What kind of vacation are you looking for? Do you want a place where you do everything on your own (rustic), or someplace that will pamper you? Want an American Plan, which includes meals or a Housekeeping Plan? Do you want to fly-, drive-, or boat-in? Do you want seclusion or a place near civilization?

The next question to help narrow your search is what species do you want to catch? I’ve been to some lakes where the fishing for a specific species is great, but only for that species. On other lakes, you can catch a lot of fish, and a variety, but not very many big ones. And then there are those lakes where you have a chance at a trophy fish, but the catching is few and far in-between. Some gems might have all of the above. It’s no good planning a trip of a lifetime just to find your destination lake doesn’t have your favorite fish!

Where to go?

Another big determining factor is your budget, and numerous options exist for any bank account. Many Canadian resorts are in the pages of these MidWest Outdoors Canada Fever issues or search the “Destinations” tab at midwestoutdoors.com.

This year, one of my trips will likely be at North Caribou Camps in northern Ontario. The camp, operated by Rob and Sandy Brodhagen and their two sons Dusty and Jeremy, has been on my wish list for several years. I’ve known Rob quite a long time, and have wanted to see his place and share a boat and a beverage or two with him. However, now that I have picked a possible destination, the fun has just begun. I guess it all depends on your idea of fun, but for me it is gathering the most information possible to make my trip successful. We all work hard day-in and day-out to enjoy our playtime, so make your vacation the best it can be. Planning and organizing is half the fun.

Search websites

You can gather a vast amount of information by logging onto the websites of resorts and destinations. A website can hold much more information than a brochure to help you plan your trip of a lifetime. For instance, you can check fishing reports, rates, packing suggestions, and how to get there. You’ll also find a list of amenities, fish photos, and even a calendar for possible trip dates. The North Caribou Camp website even has a link to where you can purchase your fishing license prior to the trip. Resort websites are ideal places to start planning and organizing your vacation.

 Still not sure where to head for? Check out some tips that worked on Lake Mille Lacs.

Talk to the owner

It’s a good idea to talk with the owner of any resort or lodge when planning a trip. Websites are good, but it is much better to go over specifics with the owner so there are no surprises when you arrive. Many resorts exhibit at various winter sport shows and list where’ they’ll be on their websites. You can have some great conversations at the shows, which not only gives you more information but also lets you see if you match with the owner’s personality. Possible questions include: what is a typical day like at the resort? Do you have a lake map that you can mark with some fishing spots? Are there any hidden or extra costs that I should know about?

Also, if you need or want something specific, bringing it up prior to the trip is always a good idea. One thing I like to do prior to any fishing vacation is to email or talk to the owner about specific baits and colors. Each body of water has “go to” baits, proven successful over the years. Often, a specific color or lure outperforms the others. Bringing the hot lure along could make the trip even more awesome.

Pack for your trip

The amount of time needed to pack varies tremendously from person to person. Packing extends the vacation for me. I like to begin packing three or four weeks prior. I don’t need that much time for packing clothing, but for gear it is essential. Gathering gear in advance guarantees that I have the correct tackle when I’m in the boat.

For instance, I first make sure I have the correct rods and reels for the species I target. Depending on room and gear restrictions, I might take my Abu Garcia two-piece Veritas rods over my one-piece models. For reels, I want one to match each each rod. I want extra spools of various line for restringing, too. From the information off the North Caribou website on bait selection, I’ll make my own list and begin packing my bag with specific baits. This allows me the opportunity to shop for various things I might be missing.

Bait for Canada

Standard baits for Canada walleye include plenty of 1/8- to 3/8-ounce jigs, Berkley Power Baits and Gulp Minnows. Rob’s website suggests the Berkley Double Tail Grub, so I’ll pack those as well. I’ll also bring an assortment of Flicker Minnows, Berkley Warpigs and various rattle baits, along with assorted crankbaits and jerkbaits.

For pike and muskies some standards are: No. 5 Mepps spinners, Berkley Ripple Shads and Kalin Sizmic Shads, Acme Little Cleos, various sized Kastmasters, assorted muskie lures, and various Dardevles and spoons. Don’t forget your leaders. I pack a good supply of Berkley 12-inch fluorocarbon leaders because the last thing I want to do is lose a trophy because I didn’t have extra leaders.

Rest assured

Canada, at least for me, is the complete fishing and outdoor experience. It’s being out in the open with wildlife. Seeing the ruggedness and beauty of the land with hardly anyone else around. Maybe even having an entire lake to yourself. It’s no phones, internet or television. Canada is stoking the fire in the woodstove during cool evenings, or sitting around a campfire. It’s a hot cup of coffee in the morning and then going down to the dock to get the boat in order. It’s stopping to build a fire and having a shore lunch of freshly caught fish. It’s taking the time to watch Canadian sunsets. It’s all that and more. The fishing that comes with it is the icing on the cake.

Now that is just my own idea of Canada. And one of the best things about planning your trip of a lifetime is that you can make it into whatever you want it to be. There are a huge variety of lakes, camps, and destinations that offer a tremendous amount of options to suit any particular taste. For me, much of the fun begins with planning the trip and the anticipation of going. By planning and organizing you can rest assured and enjoy your vacation knowing you covered your bases. The best way to make your dream trip of a lifetime come true is to start planning now.